Ayyyeee… What’s Goodie Everyone. So I got some tea and it involves two department of homeland security officials and their eligibility to work.
Two officials at the Department of Homeland Security are serving unlawfully in their roles. On Friday the Government Accountability Office dealing a rebuke to President Trump’s affinity for filling senior executive roles in his administration with “acting” leaders who lack Senate confirmation.
The GAO, which is an independent watchdog agency that reports to Congress, said Chad Wolf, the acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, and Ken Cuccinelli, the acting deputy, are serving in an “invalid order of succession” under the Vacancies Reform Act.
Democrats in Congress called on the two men to resign, but DHS officials rejected the findings as “baseless.”
U.S President Donald Trump has repeatedly circumvented the Senate confirmation process by installing appointees to interim positions, and then has left them in those roles indefinitely without a formal nomination or the backing of Congress.
Cuccinelli’s formal job title which was senior official performing the duties of the deputy secretary is very strained in the administration. The DHS leadership chart also shows him occupying the acting director role at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, a job he has had for more than a year without a nomination.
According to the GAO, Trump’s installation of Wolf and Cuccinelli violated the law because of the sequence of events following the resignation of DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen in April 2019. An official who assumed the title of acting secretary at that time, Kevin McAleenan, had not been designated in the order of succession, the GAO said.
The Vacancies Reform Act governs how temporary appointments can be made to positions that require Senate confirmation.
Immigrant advocacy groups have already have challenged the legality of Trump administration initiatives by arguing the policies have been implemented by DHS officials who lack legal authority to do so. The GAO finding is expected to trigger a new wave of litigation calling into question DHS policy changes that include blocking asylum seekers, immigrants and others from entering the country.
DHS quickly issued a statement challenging the GAO’s conclusion Friday.
“We wholeheartedly disagree with the GAO’s baseless report and plan to issue a formal response to this shortly,” DHS spokesman Nathaniel Madden said.